On the first day of finals at the mid-way meet of the Mare Nostrum Tour in Canet, Southern France, Camille Muffat established a world textile record of 1:54.66 in the 200m freestyle to extend here lead at the helm of the 2012 world rankings.
Out in lane 7, Muffat, coached by Fabrice Pellerin in Nice, had no-one but herself to press the fast-forwward button. On 1:54.87 at French trials in March, she now boasts three of the five best times in the world this year, Allison Schmitt (USA), 1:55.04 last week, and Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 1:55.23 at the London test event in March, closest to her so far.
Muffat's new French record makes her the second best performer ever after Olympic champion Fedferica Pellegrini (ITA) and her suit-assisted 1:52.98 world record of 2009. On the performances list, Pellegrini has the three best ever, her 1:52.98 followed by efforts of 1:53.67, 2009, and the 1:54.47 in which she won Italian nationals in 2009. Muffat comes next, while the Italian's textile best is a 1:55.45 from 2010, her Olympic victory of 1:54.82 in Beijing clocked while wearing two suits, a practice since banned.
Muffat's splits in March and today were almost identical, the last lap in Canet sharper:
Closest to her in Canet was Femke Heemskerk (NED), on 1:57.78, with former Commonwealth champion Caitlin McClatchey (GBR) in her best form for a while on 1:57.90 for third, those efforts locking out Canadian Barba Jardin on 1:58.50, with Karin Prinsloo (RSA) on 1:58.67.
Muffat is having a stellar season: at French trials she also established a world textile-suit best of 4:01.13 over 400m freestyle.
Her Nice teammate Yannick Agnel also has three of the best five 200m freestyle performances - the three best in fact after a storming 1:45.24 victory ahead of training partner Clement Lefert, on 1:47.22, third going to Tommaso D'Orsogna (AUS) in 1:48.35.
Agnel leads the world this year with a 1:44.42 blast at French trials in March. His effort of today is second best to that, with a 1:45.52 clocked at his home Nice meet back in February. Consistency on the way to a podium challenge in London 2012.
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In Other finals:
Women's 50m freestyle
World champion Therese Alshammar (SWE) led three women inside 25sec, the Stockholm sprinter enjoying a clears edge on 24.61, Francesca Halsall (GBR), on a stunning 24.13 when tapered for Olympic trials in March, on 24.92 for second today, with Inge Dekker (NED) just 0.02sec away.
Women's 100m backstroke
Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds kept Canadian Sinead Russell at bay 1:00.71 to 1:01.26, the only sub-1:02 swimmer Femke Heemskerk (NED), on 1:01.86.
Men's 100m backstroke
Joint world champion Camille Lacourt (FRA) and Ben Treffers (AUS) were a league up on the chasing pack, the Frenchman, in lane 2, pipping the Australian, in lane 4, 54.24 to 54.26. All others clocked 55sec plus, the best own them Brits Chris Walker-Hebborn, 55.26, and Liam Tancock, 55.45.
Women's 200m breaststroke
Marina Garcia, who in Barcelona last weekend became the first Spanish woman inside 2:25, came close to her national mark with a 2:25.22 for a commanding victory over three chasing to a 2:27 decider, Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir, of Iceland the swiftest of them on 2:27.11, Kierra Smith (CAN) on 2:27.36, and Joline Hostman (SWE) locked out on 2:27.63.
Men's 200m breaststroke
Andrew Willis (GBR) enjoyed a commanding 2:12.66 victory ahead of a 2:14.89 second place for Giacomo Perez Dortona (FRA, China's Xue Ruipeng taking third in 2:15.27, no others inside 2:16.5.
Women's 200m medley
Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, a Canadian still in her 17th year, kept experience at bay with a lifetime best of 2:13.94, that inside the 2:14.39 she clocked at Olympic trials back in March. in her wake came three swimmers on 2:14s, He Yuzhe, also 17, on 2:14.74 for China just 0.01sec ahead of Lara Grangeon (FRA), with 14-year-old Chen Xinyi (CHN) locked out in 2:14.98. Also in the race was 15-year-old Zhang Wenqing (CHN), on 2:16.08. Chen is registered in Canet as 1998 born. At Chinese nationals in April she was registered as 1997 born, on 2:13.77 - unless there are two of them and the one in Canet has just made a significant leap in standards into the world rankings.
Men's 200m medley
World cup winner Chad Les Clos (RSA) triumphed in 2:01.14 ahead of Henrique Barbosa (BRA), on 2:02.37, third going to Tobias Oriwol (CAN) in 2:02.58.
Women's 100m butterfly
Ingvild Snildal (NOR) pipped Katerine Savard (CAN) by 0.03sec for a 58.53 win, Britain's Francesca Halsall third in her second final of the evening (after second in the 50m freestyle), on 58.97, 0.02sec ahead of Martina Granstrom (SWE), Inge Dekker (NED) in the fray once more and on 59.07. Next home 1996-born Canadian Noemie Thomas on 59.50 and gaining great experience.
Men's 100m butterfly
Lars Frolander (SWE), the 2000 Olympic champion in 52.00, clocked 52.36 in heats but a 52.79 in the final left him settling for second 0.06sec behind Russian Nikita Konovalov. Kaio Almeida (BRA) was the last man inside 53, by 0.01sec, with Rafael Munoz (ESP) locked out in 53.07.
Men's 50m freestyle
Florent Manaudou (FRA and Marseilles) took the men's dash in 22.36, 0.02sec ahead of Canada's Brent Hayden, Hanser Garcia (CUB) on 22.43. After Fred Bousquet was DQd in heats for moving on his blocks, fellow Frenchman Clément Lefert went the same way in the final. Locked out in 4th and 5th were Arni Arnason (ISL), 22.53, and Fabien Gilot (FRA), 22.54.
Men's 400m freestyle
The battle went from the side wall inwards, Devon Brown (RSA), lane 1, on 3:53.86 to beat Jarrod Killey (AUS), lane 2, on 3:55.67, and 16-year-old Wei Haobo (CHN), lane 3 on 3:55.27, that just locking out another teen teammate in distant lane 6, Li Yusen on 3:55.95.
Women's 800m freestyle
Kristel Kobrich (CHI) got her hand to the wall first in 8:35.35 after a battle with 16-year-old Bi Yirong (CHN), on 8:35.76 for second. World silver medallist from 2009, Joanne Jackson (GBR) took third in 8:40.05.
Non-Olympic dash finals
Women's 50m breaststroke
Rebecca Ejdervik (SWE) clocked 31.51 for victory ahead of China's He Yuzhe the other below 32, on 31.75, with Sainte Lucie's Danielle Beaubrun on 32.04.
Men's 50m breaststroke
Felipe Lima (BRA) clocked 27.77 for the win 0.11sec ahead of Giulio Zorzi (RSA), his 27.88 the last sub-28, third place going to Max Ireland (AUS) in 28.20.